The end of year 13: Pajama Boy and the Duck Commander

It may have been a year of waiting, and the action and passion and danger are just ahead. Or maybe the Big Sleep is ahead and the hundreds of millions of Facebook millennials — the phrase has morphed recently to “young invincibles” — are not the new Greatest Generation touted as rising world savior, but a generation of Pajama Boys, a new Lost Generation instead.

Imagining him without the beard, was Hemingway not the original Pajama Boy?: “Got tight on absinthe last night. Did knife tricks.” Or has this generation been griffed by aging nostalgicos who refuse to go into the good night? More should be ahead, as a generation that covets Neil Gaiman harbors stellar instincts: “I have heard the languages of the apocalypse, and now I shall embrace the silence.”

We did see a fundamental sea change this past year in the common stone. "Duck Dynasty" went ahead of "American Idol" in the ratings. It changes everything. Or not. Because Phil Robertson, the Duck Commander, is a true American revolutionary. Or not.

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Is Duck Commander the trickster who brings states' rights, sound money, constitutional government to a revolutionary boil? Is he a “rite of entry” figure as John Brown was to Abe Lincoln, as Bob Dylan was to the revolutionary 1960s? Or is his just another redneck howl and quack in the final days of the Tea Party?

“To the greater point, the fact that a healthy, if dwindling, percentage of the country feels helplessly opposed to redefining marriage reveals an existential divide that won’t easily be bridged. Robertson didn’t create it; he exposed it,” columnist Kathleen Parker wrote on Christmas in The Washington Post.

Exactly. But is this the beginning or the end of something?

Conservatism has changed profoundly in the first 13 years of this millenium. America lurches between the malevolent and the escapist. State-based civil disobedience spontaneously spread from New Hampshire to more than 30 inland states on ObamaCare. Ron Paul called for a government tailored to common sense: “Peace. Gold. Love.”

But changing overnight from a global leviathan to a Jeffersonian vision of relatively autonomous states and regions — visualize Texas, Wisconsin, New England, Utah, the Pacific Northwest as a loosely held collection of Switzerlands, Singapores, Israels — as libertarians like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) might wish for would crash us overnight. It will take centuries. But it must begin sometime.

Yearning to action requires a collective shift and a psychological crossing of the river that takes its own time. First there is a Gray Champion like Ron Paul, the wise elder who stood in the middle of the road and cried, “no more.” Next is a “La Passionara” spirit like Sarah Palin. Then there is a Revolutionary Trickster, which brings prelude to the rising master of the times, what historian W.J. Cash called the “man at the center.”  And then there is a trigger, casus belli, a heart-driven moral imperative that transcends constitutionality and law. Abortion or gay marriage could well qualify.

Commentator Pat Caddell has called the early Tea Party rising a “pre-revolutionary” situation. The Duck Commander works in this schema; he is the Trickster who hopes to light the candle. But if the times are not right, the candle will go out.

The Trickster is a master of language, and this from the Duck Commander is a perfect sentence: “I will not give or back off from my path.” Who will be the man at the center? The one who first intuitively rises to the Trickster’s siren song — but only when the time is right and the people are ready.